Tag Archives: gay issues

Pondering “Out of a Far Country”: Conflating Issues

There’s a part of me that wishes I lived in a different world.  That part of me wishes that I lived in a world where the Yuans’ book, “Out of a Far Country,” existed in a vacuum.  In such a world, I could appreciate the book for its own merits and my discussion of it would be complete with my previous post on the topic and a brief explanation of where I disagree with Christopher’s conclusions and theology and leave it at that.

Unfortunately, that’s not the reality I occupy.  In reality, I live in a world where some people — influential people — have invested a great deal of time and money in presenting QUILTBAG people — particularly gay men — in the worst light possible.  There are those who still either explicitly or implicitly seek to link homosexuality with substance abuse, pedophilia, risky sex, and other destructive behaviors.

Such people like men like Christopher Yuan.  They love such men’s stories, because they can point those men’s experiences, generalize them, and say, “See?  This is what all gay men (and QUILTBAG people in general) are like!”  Courageous men like Christopher — and I do not discount his courage or the truly amazing nature of his transformative journey — become tools in the anti-gay political machine’s to inaccurately paint and even dehumanize an entire class of people.

Some may feel that it’s unfair to hold Christopher responsible for how others might misuse his story.  After all, such people are responsible for their own actions some might say.  And in many ways that’s quite correct.  However, I will note that Christopher and Angela are not isolated or separate from the very community that would misuse this book to generalize about all QUILTBAG people.  Indeed, the book makes it quite clear that Christopher and Angela were familiar with groups like Exodus International — which has spent years cultivating the “gay lifestyle = risky sex and substance abuse” narratives. In fact, in the chapter “Holy Sexuality,” Christopher invokes the common Exodus slogan, “The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, but holiness,” and talks about “gay identity” that is identical to the view expressed by many ex-gay groups and individuals.

As such, I have to assume that Christopher knew how his story would be perceived and presented by others.  I find the fact that he did nothing to address that and point out that his story is unique and not representative of all gay men, let alone QUILTBAG people in general, troubling and questionable.

He spends much of the book talking about friends — friends that eventually abandon him — from the circuit party scene, from the drug scene, from the porn scene.  And I have no doubt that they did exactly that.  But he makes no note that the problem isn’t that his friends were gay, but were part of scenes that are notorious for being filled with the kind of people who are only friends of convenience.  Perhaps Christopher didn’t make any gay friends from other scenes — coffee shops, pub-style gay bars, social groups, or groups that have a political/social justice bent — that tend to be filled with gay people who are more likely to swarm around someone in need.  People get involved in different scenes after all, and I’m not questioning his experience.  But again, as someone who should know what the narrative many conservative evangelical Christians try to push concerning QUILTBAG people, I’m troubled that he put in no effort to make it clear that his friends’ abandonment of him was probably far more influenced by factors other than their sexual orientation.

I find the same problem in the chapter “Holy Sexuality,” which I hope to cover more in a future blog post.  But for now, I’d like to note that Christopher describes the sequence in which he identifies and eliminates his “idols.”  He starts by identifying drug use as an idol and something he needs to live without, which I can certainly agree with.  Then he moves on to determine that dance music and the party scene is idol for him.  He is quick to note, however, that there is nothing inherently wrong with dance music or going to clubs.  He simply points out that he does not believe that he could do these things without falling back into old drug habits.  I can certainly understand this and honor his personal wisdom in realizing what he needs to do for himself in order to keep himself healthy and under control.  I’ll also note that in a sense, he also acknowledges this as a personal struggle and a personal choice of how to deal with it.  He doesn’t try to make it a universal ban on dance music and clubbing for all people.

Then he gets to the issue of sex.  He describes his own relationship to sex as follows:

I had an addiction to sex.  Having several anonymous partners at a bathhouse in the same day had been nothing out of the ordinary for me.

An actual addiction to sex is a serious problem, and I sympathize with Christopher and anyone else who has struggled with sexual addiction.  But Christopher jumps from the above statement right to the question of living without sex at all.  It’s as if in Christopher’s mind, there’s no middle ground here.  A gay man is either celibate or he is addicted to sex.

Perhaps he doesn’t mean that.[1]  Perhaps he means this as a personal decision, that for him, the only way to break free from the sexual addiction he felt was to turn to abstinence.  If that is the case, then I can respect that as another personal decision based on personal struggles.

However, the context of the rest of the chapter doesn’t leave me with that impression.  But my analysis of the rest of his views on holy sexuality will have to wait for another post.  And at any rate, given the tendency of many in the ex-gay/anti-gay movement(s) to conflate homosexuality and sexual addiction/”promiscuity,” I’m still concerned that he either intentionally or unintentionally contributed to that conflation by not addressing the issue.

[1]  Assuming the email I received regarding my last post, Christopher is reading my blog posts concerning his and his mother’s books.  Given that, perhaps he will see fit to clarify what his thinking/intent on this and my other concerns are.

Signs you might have a homophobia problem

Bert Hummel would totally get today’s post.

Like racism, sexism, and transphobia, homophobia is something that can be quite subtle, yet persistent.  Some people think that not calling gay people “dykes” and “faggots” and not perpetrating physical violence against gay people means they are free of all homophobia.  However, they miss the little things that they say and do that continue and encourage negative attitudes — no matter how subtle — toward QUILTBAG[1] people.

I was reminded of this earlier this week when I watched a random person stutter and stammer, and try to demonstrate his self-perceived non-homophobic status to me.  As I listened to him, I began to compile the following list of things that indicate one has a homophobia problem.  Some of the statements in this list are things that this person actually said, while other ones are things that came to mind.

“I’m not homophobic, but….”

I think it’s good to start with this one because it’s based on a greater and possibly universal principle.  You can replace “homophobic” with “sexist,” “racist,” “transphobic,” “ablist,” “classist,” or just about anything else, and the statement will still be problematic.

This statement fails because basic communications teaches that the word “but” cancels out anything said up to that point.  The preceding clause can be removed and not change the rest of the message.  So if whatever comes after the word “but” is the true message.  If that message “sounds” homophobic, it is homophobic.

This statement is actually about self-deception, in that the person knows what they are about to say is indeed homophobic, but they do not wish to be perceived — by themselves or others — as homophobic.  They think that simply asserting that they are not homophobic, they are somehow insulated[2] by the homophobic sentiments they are about to express or imply.

If you find yourself saying “I’m not homophobic, but,” stop talking immediately.  Accept that what you were about to say was homophobic and be a better person by not saying it.  Ever again.

“I didn’t know you were gay.”

If you say something in front of me and realize it wasn’t a good thing to say in front of me due to my sexual orientation, then you shouldn’t have said it in my absence, either.  It’s amazing to me that people don’t get this concept.

People are more concerned about not appearing homophobic than they are with actually being homophobic.  In their minds, it’s okay to make homophobic and other problematic statements as long as no one — at least no one who doesn’t share those same sentiments — actually hears them.  I’m reminded of the saying that what a person does when others are watching defines zir reputation while what zie does when no one is looking defines zir character.  It seems that we live in a society where many people are concerned about their reputation, but not their character.

“I have gay friends.”

To be frank, I think every QUILTBAG person I know is one of those “gay friends.”  If you talk about your “gay friends” as a defense against accusations of homophobia, stop and ask your “gay friends” how they feel about this.  Quite frankly, I’m the “gay friend” of several people, and they don’t make my list of people I’d call up if I just had a bad break up, if I needed to talk to someone about an STD scare, or even if I was just feeling depressed and needed someone to talk to.  Quite frankly, such people overstate the strength and value of our “friendship.”  I often suspect the person who starts telling me about their “gay friends” in this context are doing likewise.

There’s also the fact that having gay friends — even real gay friends — does not make one a perfect person when it comes to being an ally for gay people or homophobia-free.  I do have legitimate friends who occasionally slip up and say something stupid and hurtful.  The reason they’re still my friends is because when I point it out to them, they acknowledge it and apologize.  They don’t start telling me how they can’t possibly be homophobic because they have friends like me.

“I was only joking.”

Now, I like gay humor.  I make all kinds of jokes about myself, especially those areas in which I actually fit the gay male stereotypes.  I also make such jokes because humor can be a powerful way to reclaim power over something that is hurtful and othering.

However, as a gay man, I have the right to make that choice.  I can joke about things that hurt me because it’s my life and my pain I’m joking about.  When I do it, it’s a powerful weapon I’m wielding.  When someone else — such as a heterosexual person — does it, it’s likely to be rubbing salt in my wounds.  Someone else making light of that which hurts and others me is not empowering me, it’s having a laugh at my expense.

I may let some friends — those true allies that have walked beside me through my struggles and who would be the first to step up to my defense — engage in such humor.  They have earned that privilege in my mind, so I choose to grant it to them.  But if I have not explicitly granted you that privilege, claiming it for yourself is hurtful and wrong.  Joke about your own pains and struggles.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

This is another one of those deflective phrases that people use.  It was a common catchphrase used by the WINK 106 morning show back when I lived in the Elmira area.  Whenever they topic of homosexuality came up, one of the show’s hosts would quickly add, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

Here’s the thing:  If you have to utter that phrase, then it’s clear that even you — or some part of you — feels like you’ve said something that implies there is something wrong with being gay.  People who sincerely believe that there’s nothing wrong with being gay and demonstrate that belief through their words and deeds need no such disclaimer.

If you find yourself making any of the above statements — or remember when you’ve made them in the past — it’s time to re-evaluate your understanding of and attitude towards non-heterosexual orientations.  It’s time to admit that, yes, maybe you need to address some homophobia still lurking in your thoughts.  That admission does mean that you’re a horrible person.  But refusing to make that admission will keep you from becoming a better person.  And ultimately, isn’t actually becoming a better person preferable to trying to convince people you’re a better person?

[1]  I’m actually hesitant to use such an inclusive term for this discussion.  While much of what I say is applicable to — or can be modified to be applicable to — intersexed, transgender, and asexual people, there are entire lists of ways that such people are additionally marginalized and othered which I will not be discussing in this post.  As such, mentioning them without at least acknowledging their unique experiences where I am actually privileged strikes me as problematic.

[2]  These are likely people who also operate under the mistaken belief that intent is magic.

How not to reach out to gay people.

Trigger Warnings:  Homophobia, suicidal thoughts, sexually violent dreams, frank sexual talk.  If you don’t feel you can handle reading this post, I completely understand.  Please feel free to ask Personal Failure to share one of her otters with you instead.

Confessions of a Former Conservative is one of my favorite blogs, as he critiques, challenges, and denounces some of the more spiteful things said by fundamentalist and other ultra-conservative Christians online.  One of the blogs he regularly critiques is written by a woman named Gerie.  He recently posted a critique on her condemnation of Christians who are pro-gay and reaffirmed her own certainty that being gay is a sin.  As she quoted the Romans 1 “clobber passage,” I offered the following commentary on Former Conservative’s post:

You know what? That particular passage pisses me off. You know why? Because it suggests that the cause of homosexuality is idolatry. Well, guess what? I grew up a good little Christian. i said the sinner’s prayer and meant it. I did everything I was supposed to. And I still turned out gay. I tried to convince myself it was a phase. I stayed gay. I prayed to God and begged with Him to turn me straight. I’m still gay.

So you know what? Fuck Romans 1 (or at least Gerie’s interpretation of it.) Because I did everything I was supposed to and I still ended up fucking gay. So obviously, either Romans 1 is bullshit or Gerie’s interpretation of it is.

And I’m not the only person who had that experience. There’s at least one website dedicated to people who did everything right and even tried to overcome their gayness and yet remained gay.

I understand that Gerie’s the type that will continue to believe her whacked-out interpretation over reality, but come on. She can at least acknowledge that she’s a reality-denier. It’d be the honest thing to do, and given how important the truth (supposedly) is to her…..

Apparently, Gerie read my statement, because it’s a fairly that her Monday post is a direct response to what I said.  As I read it, I was both amused and disgusted.  I was amused because I found many of the things Gerie said in response to my comment to be quite predictable.  I was disgusted for the same reasons.  Gerie’s response is a non-response.  A response actually engages with what was said and seeks dialogue.  Gerie’s lengthy missive makes no such attempt.  Instead, it is little more than a reiteration of her position and an attempt to make my own personal narrative fit into her preconceived ideas on the topic.

Gerie says the following of me and my comment in the introduction to her post:

But this heartfelt comment that I read, stood out from the others and I am sure, touched the heart of God. I know this because from the time I read it, the Lord had me on my knees, praying and interceding with many tears for this person. Who I don’t know personally and have never met, but for a little while, as I prayed for him, I could feel the pain in his heart, and the inner conflict and turmoil that sin has caused in his life.

To be frank, I find the above statements patronizing and sanctimonious.  Gerie claims that my post had her in tears and she had this great emotional experience over me.  However, note that her response is simply to pray and “know what I’m feeling.”  And yet she did not make any attempt to contact me.  She did not join the open conversation on Former Conservative’s blog.  She did not try to find my email address[1] in order to contact me directly.  Instead, she decided to write a blog post about me (she couldn’t even be bothered to address her comments to me) on a blog that doesn’t allow comments.

These are not the actions of someone who wants dialogue.  I will go so far as to say that this is not someone who even cares, despite her claims to the contrary.  A person who cares about someone seeks to engage in conversation with that other person.  Gerie is simply having another self-aggrandizing moment of (faux) piety.

 I also find it curious that based on a single, 225-word (not counting the quoted passage) comment , Gerie is sure that she knows exactly what I am feeling[2] and why.  If Gerie thinks that such a short message can give her a complete insight into my numerous and complex feelings on the topic of my sexual, romantic, and emotional feelings and the fact that I was brought up to think those things made me evil (a position I have since long rejected both with good reason and for the better), she is sorely mistaken.  And there’s certainly no inner conflict.  I’ve long made peace with my feelings and the Divine.  So any “inner conflict” Gerie is sensing is an invention of her own imagination.

Gerie takes a pause in her discussion to offer the following aside to parents, which I find very telling:

Parents, take the time to talk to your children and pay attention to what’s going on inside of their hearts. I am learning that Satan attacks our children mercilessly simply because he can get away with it and he is never suspected.

I bolded the part that I find most interesting in a most disturbing way.  Reread that and let it sink in.  According to Gerie, Satan is allowed to attack children.  By whom?  Well, by Gerie’s god, of course!  Again, take a moment for that to really sink in.  Gerie’s god allows Satan to attack children.  He does nothing to stop it.  What’s worse, if Satan’s attacks on children works, Gerie’s god sends those children to eternal torment as a punishment for not standing up to those attacks.

Am I the only one that thinks that makes Gerie’s god a complete fucking bastard?

I’ll also note that ex-gay ministries and reparative therapy “experts” have spewed all this “parents be careful or your children could go stray” stuff before.  Some of the family members of former ex-gays will gladly tell you that it places an unbearable sense of guilt on them.  Mom and Dad don’t need any more shaming over my sexual, romantic, and emotional feelings than I do.

Gerie continues:

For instance whether a child accepts the belief that they are gay or not, and believing they were made that way or were born that way, because the feelings were there as far back as they can remember.

People don’t believe they’re gay.  People believe that there’s a god who hears their prayers.  People believe that humans are basically good.  People believe that buying lotto tickets from the middle of the row increases their chances of winning.  These are all intellectual ideas with a great deal of doubt, uncertainty, and unverifiability.

Romantic and sexual attractions are too concrete and too visceral to be considered mere belief.  The boy who is left feeling cold at the thought of kissing Judy or Lilly,[3] but whose heart flutters at the thought of kissing Ken or Roger has more than a “belief” that he is guy.  The young girl who wakes up from her fifth dream about making out with a girl all sweaty and aroused has more than a “belief” that she is gay.

Sexual orientation is about feelings and attractions.  These things are inherently involuntary.  People don’t plan to feel a certain way, and emotions tend to happen on their own.  If those feelings tend to be towards members of the same sex and of a romantic and sexual nature, that person is gay.  There’s no “belief” involved.

The belief that a person is born gay is correctly identified as a belief.  However, it is a belief that is based in a great deal of evidence and common sense.  There has been a great deal of research that has demonstrated a high level of certainty that sexual orientation is biologically determined and most likely a matter of genetics combined with pre-natal conditions.  Of course, this brings me to the next statement made by Gerie:

Common sense tells us
that if God will judge homosexuality as sin that He would never
intentionally plant those desires in our hearts, but that the source of
those feeling had to originate from somewhere else.

Gerie is correct about what common sense tells us.  However, I will argue that her conclusion is counter-intuitive and completely works the reasoning in the wrong direction.

You see, all the research and the experiences of actual gay people suggests very strongly — to those who value empirical data above blindly following dogma — that all those feelings and desires are inborn.  As such, the reasonable conclusion is that no loving god would “make” us gay and then condemn us, so no loving god would be condemn those who are gay.

Instead, Gerie chooses to assume — based on nothing other than a dogmatic acceptance of a “literal interpretation” of certain clobber passages that theologians have challenged repeatedly — that God hates homosexuality.  So instead of relying on scientific research and the experiences of countless gay people, she decides there must be another explanation for gayness.  As I said in my original comment, Gerie is engaging in reality-denial here.

Of course, Gerie’s explanation is still problematic.  Her solution is to say that Satan gave people those feelings, even at a very young age.  But as I noted earlier, Gerie’s god still had to allow Satan to do this.  I do not accept that a loving god would condemn people to eternal damnation for choosing to cope with the feelings He allowed Satan to give them the best way they know how any more than he’d condemn them if He had given those same people those same feelings Himself.

Gerie’s god simply makes no sense to me unless that I accept that He stands for some things I consider morally abhorrent.  If I accept that, then I have no desire to have anything to do with such a god.

After going on about Satan’s evil ways of getting people to believe various things and God’s abusive ways of sending people to eternal torment for falling for Satan’s tricks, Gerie hits upon a rather ironic statement about the hard questions:

Never go to your Pastor or any man with the hard questions that he couldn’t possibly know the answer to, go to God.

I find this ironic because Gerie has effectively condemned herself.  If you read through the post I’m critiquing and the rest of your blog, you will find that Gerie makes a regular practice of “answering the hard questions” herself.  Does this mean that secretly, Gerie believes that she is God?  It would certainly explain a number of things.

I’m sure that Gerie would defend herself by saying that she’s going to the Bible and giving not her own answers, but God’s answers.  The problem with this claim, however, is that this is the same claim that just about every pastor I know would make (except that many pastors I know would honestly add that it’s their understanding of God’s answers “as it stands now” and that it may be inaccurate).  There’s nothing that actually demonstrates that Gerie has any more authority to make that claim than they do.

At any rate, Gerie suggests that the correct thing to do is to ultimately go to God with the hard questions:

So we should always try
to understand things from Gods perspective. Get on your knees and go to
God and ask for wisdom and understanding. Be persistent and never give
We want everything to happen overnight and can I tell you that it just doesn’t work that way. Not with the things that matter.

This is sound advice, except that it assumes that people like me — or people who disagree with Gerie’s understanding of a wrathful god hell-bent on doing horrible things to people He disapproves of for reasons he has a hand in — haven’t done this already.  If Gerie doesn’t think I and tohers sought god earnestly and painfully, then her understanding of me is fatally flawed.  To be blunt, she has no understanding of me.  As I mentioned before, she is merely making assumptions about me and those like me to make our narratives fit her preconceived notions.  Gerie is engaging in more reality-denial.

As for the comment that God doesn’t answer questions over night, I will simply comment that I waited on God for eight years for an answer and only came to the answer I did when it nearly destroyed me.  Between accepting that I’m gay and slitting my wrists — something I seriously considered for over thirty minutes and in such detail that I can still picture the curve of the blade, the grain of the wood, and the exact color of the brass rivets of the knife I was going to use — I decided that any truly Divine being would rather see me accept my feelings.

If Gerie and her god doesn’t understand that…well I’d say my opinion of them would go down, but I’m not sure that’s possible at this point.

Next, Gerie moves into one of her favorite subjects: how it’s important to fear her god.  Now quite frankly, considering all the horrible things Gerie’s god allegedly does, I’d be apt to fear him if I believed in him at all, too.  That’s a god who should be feared, not loved.

To support her position, Gerie quotes Luke 12:5:

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has
killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

So there you have it.  Even Jesus says we should fear god.  But maybe we should see what Jesus had to say in the verses that bracket that one.

4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!  6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?[a] And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

So basically, Jesus isn’t saying “fear God” so much as he’s saying “if you’re going to fear anyone, it should be God, but you shouldn’t even fear him.”  This actually goes along with what the apostle John said about love casting out fear.

I’m going to jump over the section where Gerie goes on at length about how for heaven to work, God has to have perfect obedience in order.  That in itself would make a great blog post.  However, for now, I’m simply going to suggest that reading this part of Gerie’s post about how God needs to be a tyrant for everybody’s own good with Bob Altemyer’s book “The Authoritarians” in mind.

The thing I will note, however, is that Gerie makes a switch in her argument about morality at this point.  Up to this point, she has been calling for blind obedience to God’s commands (or Gerie’s interpretation of them) simply because He’s God and if you don’t, He’ll torment you forever and ever.  Now she’s trying to claim that God only does this because it’s the only way to keep things going smoothly, as if suddenly keeping things going smoothly is now the real reason for morality rather than avoiding God’s wrath.  Of course, she offers no proof that (her interpretation of) God’s commands will actually make things go smoothly, so this comes off more like an abusive father who is claiming that beating his child until limbs break or a lung gets punctured is “for their own good.”  Both arguments are just as unsubstantiated.

Of course, it also implies a real flaw with Gerie’s god.  If the only way that God can make things to work is to give commands from on high and torment those who disobey, he’s a terrible God.  Hell, he’s worse than some of the worst human leaders to have ever walked.  If Gerie’s god has no way of motivating people to follow him,[4] then he needs to go back to god/management school.

Gerie eventually gets back to me and my comment, offering this rather condescending analysis:

The comment that I read, said that he did everything right, and he is still gay. He said the sinners prayer and begged God to take away his gay tendencies. What we have to understand is that saying the “sinners prayer” won’t save anybody, despite what we have been taught by church people. And understand that all of your sinful desires don’t go away automatically once you are saved.

You know, I’m always amused by the number of conservative Christians who claim to know my heart.  In this case, Gerie doubts the sincerity of my prayer of repentance.  Other people simply think I didn’t pray hard enough, have enough faith in God, or didn’t give God enough time.  I’d like to know what Divine Power these people think they possess to know what I did, where my heart was, or what I was really thinking for my childhood, teenage years, and even my early twenties.

I could give a lengthy story about my life, my choices, and my pains.  I could talk about the horror the first time I woke up from a wet dream, horrified that the dream had involved not a girl, but a male classmate[5].  I can talk about the nights I laid in bed for several minutes to an hour praying for forgiveness over every little perceived sin — and things I wasn’t sure really was a sin but asked for forgiveness for “just in case.”  I could talk about the time I spent in church praying, worshiping, and leading others in the same.  I could talk about the time I spent in high school and college being just as obnoxiously “righteous” as Gerie.

But I won’t, because I don’t have to explain myself to Gerie.  I don’t have to explain myself to anyone.  And i certainly won’t bother trying to explain myself to someone who doesn’t have the decency to ask me rather than just go off making whatever assumptions about me will prop up her preconceived notions.  I deserve more respect than that and I have more respect for myself than that.

Gerie goes on to say the following:

What saves us is that
after we turn to Jesus with a sorrow for the condition we have allowed
ourselves to get into, that we firmly determine in our heart that we
will never commit another sin.

The problem with this is that Gerie is now trying to blame the person for being gay.  However, Gerie has already conceded that someone else — she believes it’s Satan — has planted these feelings in gay people.  So basically, Gerie’s trying to say that it’s both not gay people’s fault for being gay and is their fault.  Gerie has just contradicted herself at this point, and it becomes apparent to me that Gerie will say whatever she has to in order to defend her position, even if it means contradicting herself.  Logic, consistency, and reality be damned.

Gerie goes on to tell me (oh, it appears she does address me in the second person after all — after a huge wall of text) that while my feelings may really, they are a lie.  You know, while I understand that feelings are not always an accurate depiction of reality — like I how I occasionally feel that no one loves me despite the fact that there are dozens of people who love me — this idea of “feelings as a lie” as Gerie presents it makes no sense.

Being gay is all about feelings.  If you have certain feelings towards members of the same sex and only members of the same sex, you are gay.  That’s the very definition of the word gay.  So to acknowledge that I really have those exist and yet deny that I’m gay is a contradictions — or an attempt to redefine what it means to be gay.  I’m afraid Gerie will lose that battle every time.

Next, Gerie goes on to demonstrate her complete lack of comprehension of homosexuality:

Stop right now, believing in your heart that you are gay, its a lie! You are caught in a trap by believing the lie. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he. Look at yourself. You are a MAN!  You are not a woman. God Himself created you and He made you a man!

In my thirty-seven years of life, I have never doubted I am a man.  I have never thought of myself as a woman.[6]  Gerie seems to be conflating being trans* with being gay or bi.  They are not the same thing.  It is perfectly possible to see oneself as a man[7] and still prefer the romantic and sexual companionship of another man.

Again, Gerie’s inability to understand what it actually means to be gay and her willingness to uphold her incorrect assumptions about what it means to be gay rather than learning from the narratives of actual gay people shows a callousness and lack of caring in her that is inexcusable.  Someone who will not even listen to what I have to say and consider my narrative as it is rather than what they want it to be is not someone who deserves my ear or my respect.

I’m going to end my commentary here, as I believe I’ve said everything that needs to be said.  The rest of Gerie’s post is a combination of exhortations to fight (displaying assumptions about what I have and haven’t done and why I changed my point of view), making faulty analogies between other (alleged) sins that fail for reasons I can’t be bothered to go into right now (hey, I’m allowed to get tired, and I’ve been working on this post for over two hours now), and threatening me with hell if I don’t.  That last makes her closing comment about hoping that she’ll meet me some day (but making no real effort to enter into real dialogue or relationship with me at the present) all the more ludicrous.

[1]  If you click my linked name next to the note on FC’s blog, it takes you to my main site.  On that page is a link to send me an email address.  Apparently, clicking through two links to find my email address is too much effort for Gerie.

[2]  I suspect she’d claim that God let her feel my pain, as I get the impression that Gerie is a Pentecostal/charismatic Christian as well.  However, as I’ll demonstrate as I continue through her post, she’s either wrong or God sent her a “distorted picture.”

[3]  I cannot say whether this is universal or even common, but personally, I was almost more disturbed by my lack of attraction to girls as I was the presence of feelings for boys.  I vividly remember laying in bed realizing that the thought of kissing a particular girl (one I had convinced myself I had feelings for) left me feeling cold and uncomfortable, and wondering, “What the hell is wrong with me????”

[4] And now we’re back to one of my points in Monday’s post.

[5]  What’s really messed up is that I was more disturbed that the sexual activity (non-penetrative, by the way) in the dream was with another man rather than the fact that it was non-consensual on my part.

[6]  Granted, I have occasionally wondered what it would be like to be a woman.  However, that is not the same as thinking that I am a woman or want to be one.

[7]  Though I grant you that my understanding of what it means to be a man is far more fluid and far less riddled with stereotypes than Gerie’s.

Free speech for who?

Recently, a New Jersey teacher posted comments on Facebook that spoke out against teaching about LGBT people of historic significance and denigrated gays.  She went so far as to call homosexuality a cancer.  This has led some people, including Garden State Equality head Steve Goldstein — to criticize her and even recommend that the school reconsider allowing her to hold her position.

Proving once again that the conservative Christian caricature of them is quite unfounded, the ACLU has actually defended teacher Viki Knox:

“Although we do not agree with the sentiments expressed on Ms. Knox’s personal Facebook page, her comments are protected by the First Amendment,” ACLU Legal Director Ed Barocas stated. “The ACLU believes that the response to offensive speech is not the restriction of speech, but more speech.”

I agree with Barocas, and I am hesitant to remove a teacher for making personal comments outside of school and outside the capacity as a school employee and representative.[1]  As distasteful, hateful, and bigoted as I find the quotes in the article, I cannot in good conscience seek to silence Knox or prevent her from saying them on her own time and when she is acting as a private citizen.

Having said that, I think it’s important to note that while I and the ACLU are more than willing to stand up for her freedom of expression, Ms. Knox is quite happy to deny that freedom to QUILTBAG individuals.  Indeed, the whole thing that sparked this controversy was the fact that she took issue with recognizing and acknowledging gay people of historic significance.[2]  And she made it perfectly known that she would like all QUILTBAG people to remain completely closeted:

“Why parade your unnatural immoral behaviors before the rest of us?

Bear in mind that according to religious conservatives and other homophobes, immoral behaviors includes things like two men holding hands and one woman giving another woman a back rub.

Knox is not unique in this matter.  Many anti-gay individuals and groups will work towards the silencing of QUILTBAG individuals, forcing us into the closet, and making us all but invisible, yet will complain about their own rights to spew their drivel are being violated — or even just when they perceive them as having been violated.[3]

I don’t fault them for sticking up for their rights.  I do think some LGBT advocates go too far in some (hopefully rare) cases.  I just wish they’d grant us the same courtesy.


[1]  Of course, as Goldstein notes, one of Knox’s comments include the phrase “That’s what I teach and preach,” which does suggest that the school would do well to make sure that she is not using her teaching position as a bully pulpit for not only expressing her views, but giving them some sense of authority.

[2]  For a wonderful examination of how writing marginalized groups out of the pictures contributes to their continued marginalization and oppression, see mmy’s fantastic take on the well-known incident where it happened to women this past Spring.

[3]  This example was the result of a racist comment rather than a homophobic one.  However, the principle remains the same:  haters want to silence others while wrapping their hatred in the First Amendment.  Specifically who they hate is irrelevant.

Samuel Brinton is an incredible young man

Check out the video he did, telling about his experiences with his family and his attempt to change his sexual orientation.  (TRIGGER WARNING:  Attempted suicide, extreme “conversion therapy” methods, physical and emotional abuse.)

Fortunately, many of us do not have experiences as severe or extreme as Samuel’s.  However, some of themes are the familiar:
  • The sense of hopelessness
  • The feeling that we have to change to earn the love of those around us
  • The confusion turning into shame
According to BTB (where I found the video), Sam is currently a college student.  This means that his story is something that happened in the past two decades, quite possibly since the year 2000.  This is not a story from the 1950’s or even the 1970’s.  So remember this whenever someone says QUILTBAG people aren’t treated horribly today.

Movie Review: Shank

I’ve watched a number of movies that have dealt with the theme of young men coming to terms with being gay.  However, it is the rare movie that explores that theme with the intensity and rawness as Shank, the British film directed by Simon Pearce.  In this film, Pearce gives us a glimpse into the life of Cal, a teenage gang member who is trying to hide his sexual orientaion from his fellow thugs.

The movie quickly introduces us to Cal, who copes with his feelings by engaging in random sexual encounters, drug use, and gang violence.  The first few scenes show the gritty nature of his life in the gang.  However, Cal’s life suddenly changes when his best mate, Jonno, and their de facto leader, Nessa, decide to pick on poor Olivier, a French exchange student who is stereotypically and somewhat flamboyantly gay.  In a moment of conscience and fear — and perhaps seeing too much of himself and his potential fate in Olivier and the treatment he receives — Cal stops the pair from beating the French boy, allows him to escape, and then abandons his fellow thugs to apologize to Olivier and offer him a lift home.

Cal attempts to return to his gang’s hideout later, only to discover that he is not only unwelcome, but an acceptable target for his former comrades’ anger and violence.  Cal escapes and returns to Olivier, and the pair soon get involved in a rocky, tenuous relationship.  However, Nessa and the other gang members discover Cal’s secret and begin to hunt down the pair.

This movie is a masterful blending of grit (to rival FAQ’s and Ethan Mao) and tender sensuality, demonstrating the storm of emotions that Cal experiences as he is tugged in different directions.  All of the actors play their parts well, filling each scene with emotion through words, tone of voice, body gestures, and expression.  Even characters like Nessa, whose deeper motives for her anger and rage towards Cal are beautifully fore-shadowed toward the beginning of the movie, are given a great deal of attention and depth.

One particularly interesting piece of cinematography in this movie was the use of the cell phone video footage. The gang always recorded their acts of violence via cell phone, and this fact was used in the movie to hint at violence to come at times.  It was an interesting way of adding a bit of suspense at critical moments.

My one criticism of this movie would be that there’s a bit more synchronicity in the movie than is really reasonable.  For example, it’s entirely too convenient that the first sexual encounter Cal has with the movie is with Scott, who later turns out to be one of Olivier’s university instructors.  There were other coincidences involving Scott, which I will not go into, as it would reveal too much about how the movie concludes.

As a final note, I would warn readers that this is a very violent movie and even includes sexual violence.  Those who are bothered or emotionally trigger by such things should either skip this one or take appropriate precautions when sitting down to watch it.